The Mental Health Dangers of an Over-Stuffed School Schedule

April 3, 2019

For their children to succeed as adults, many parents think they’ve got to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Perhaps we believe this abundance of activities will foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. But is this excessive involvement in activities doing more harm than good? According to a study published in the journal “Sport, […]

The Mental Health Dangers of an Over-Stuffed School Schedule

April 3, 2019

For their children to succeed as adults, many parents think they’ve got to be involved in numerous extracurricular activities. Perhaps we believe this abundance of activities will foster a sense of pride and accomplishment. But is this excessive involvement in activities doing more harm than good?

According to a study published in the journal “Sport, Education, and Society,” the social demands of an extracurricular-heavy schedule are not only placing an unprecedented strain on families, but also potentially harming children’s development and well-being.

The researchers interviewed 50 families of primary-aged children and found that 88% of the kids were involved in extracurricular activities four to five days a week. These activities were the central focus of family life, especially in households with more than one child. As a consequence, families were spending less quality time together and children were exhausted.

The researchers from the journal “Sport, Education, and Society” were quick to warn parents of the potential negative impact of an over-stuffed school schedule: “Raising awareness of this issue can help those parents who feel under pressure to invest in their children’s organized activities, and are concerned with the impact of such activities on their family, to have the confidence to plan a less hectic schedule for their children.”

Helping Your Child Find a Balance

In order for extracurricular activities to do more good than harm, parents have to make sure family time takes precedence. Here are some ways you can help your child find a balance:

Let Kids be Kids

Make sure there is enough non-structured time for kids to express themselves in creative ways. This freedom allows children time for the joy of self-discovery. Adult-organized activities can restrict this natural inclination.

Recognize the Importance of Family Time

As I mentioned, the study found that too many kid activities lead to a major strain on family time. Other studies have shown the importance of family bonds to a child’s development and well-being. While you may initially feel hesitant in taking your child out of some of their activities, just remember the benefits of spending more time as a family.

Talk to Your Child

Don’t decide which activities stay and which go without first getting input from your child. He or she should be able to help decide the activities that bring them the most benefits and joy.

 

Nowadays, kids and adults can find themselves juggling way too many responsibilities. It’s important for all of us to slow down, relax, and spend as much time as we can as a family. If you’re looking for an expert to help your family come together again, please reach out to me today.

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/news/2018/05/15/too-many-extracurricular-activities-for-kids-may-do-more-harm-than-good/135388.html

https://psychcentral.com/news/2016/12/01/parents-should-not-put-too-much-pressure-on-kids/113269.html

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200301/are-we-pushing-our-kids-too-hard

5 Exercises & Tips to Lower Your Anxiety Before a Big Exam

March 16, 2019

For many of us, college was absolutely the best time in our lives. The freedom and friendships made those four years incredibly special. But college isn’t all sparkles and unicorns. For others, college is a completely different and often negative experience. As fun as it can be, it’s also incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to […]

5 Exercises & Tips to Lower Your Anxiety Before a Big Exam

March 16, 2019

For many of us, college was absolutely the best time in our lives. The freedom and friendships made those four years incredibly special. But college isn’t all sparkles and unicorns. For others, college is a completely different and often negative experience.

As fun as it can be, it’s also incredibly stressful, especially when it comes time to take an exam. The bigger and more important the exam is, the more we tend to suffer from anxiety, and the less likely we are to do our best.

If this scenario sounds all too familiar to you, then use the following tips and exercises to help lower your anxiety before the next big exam you take:

1. Breathe Deeply

When we feel fear, our body can go into an adrenaline-fueled panic mode. This chemical and physical reaction is how our ancestors survived numerous threats. But in this state, our minds do not function properly. In fact, they often go completely blank.

When we take slow, deep breaths, we help our bodies go from the survival response to a relaxed response. This helps the blood flow back into our brain and helps us focus on the task at hand.

2. Change Your Perspective

Most of us think of tests as something designed specifically to trick us. The truth is, if you have studied and are totally prepared, then the test is actually an opportunity for you to show off how much you know.

The other truth is your professors WANT you to pass. When you pass, they look good. So stop going into the exam with a negative attitude and go in feeling confident and knowing your teachers want you to do well.

3. Start Strong

To set the right tone for the test, scan it to find those questions you are 100% sure about and answer those first. This will help you feel confident and put your mind into a free-flow thinking state.

4. Be Realistic

What is your history of taking exams? Have you generally done well in the past? Are you a good student that makes an effort? If so, remind yourself of these facts. It’s easy to have dramatic and unrealistic ideas floating around in your head right before an exam. Thoughts like, “I’m gonna fail and then I won’t pass the class and I won’t get my degree and will end up working at Starbucks the rest of my life if I’m lucky.”

This likely won’t happen so don’t make an already stressful situation worse by being unrealistic.

5. Exercise

Exercise the morning before your exam. This will not only release built-up tension in your muscles (make sure to stretch after your workout), but it will also release “feel-good” endorphins that will put you in a better frame of mind.

 

If you would like some extra help handling the stressors of academic life, please reach out to me today to schedule an appointment.

 

Sources:

https://psychcentral.com/lib/9-ways-to-reduce-anxiety-right-here-right-now/

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/in-practice/201502/test-anxiety-quick-tips

https://www.onlineschoolscenter.com/20-effective-ways-to-calm-your-nerves-before-an-exam/

How to Help Your Child Balance School and Extracurricular Activities

February 21, 2019

There was a time when young kids went to school, came home and did a little homework, then went outside to play with their friends. Their schedules were open and easy for them to handle. Nowadays, more and more young kids are involved in so many activities they don’t seem to have time to play […]

How to Help Your Child Balance School and Extracurricular Activities

February 21, 2019

There was a time when young kids went to school, came home and did a little homework, then went outside to play with their friends. Their schedules were open and easy for them to handle.

Nowadays, more and more young kids are involved in so many activities they don’t seem to have time to play in the backyard. On top of school, many kids are involved in two or three team sports, music lessons, and church activities. These kids often struggle to keep up with their school & extracurricular activity load and find themselves anxious and having trouble sleeping.

Alvin Rosenfeld, M.D., a child psychiatrist and author of The Over-Scheduled Child: Avoiding the Hyper-Parenting Trap, believes that enrolling children in too many activities is a nationwide problem. “Overscheduling our children is not only a widespread phenomenon, it’s how we parent today,” he says.

“Parents feel remiss that they’re not being good parents if their kids aren’t in all kinds of activities. Children are under pressure to achieve, to be competitive.”

Kids Want to Please Their Parents

While we may think we are doing our kids a service by signing them up for activities we think they’ll enjoy and will build character and confidence, we must understand that they may not want or be able to handle so much.

Some of us may look back on our own childhoods with regret and dismay and vow that our kids will have more. These good intentions often turn into childhood nightmares for our kids. We mean well, but it’s just too much for them to handle.

Here are some things parents can do to help their children balance their schoolwork and extracurricular activities:

Lighten Up

Parents need to lighten up and remember that childhood is supposed to be fun! There will be plenty of time to be serious when they are adults. Try to put less pressure on your child to achieve something grand, and spend more time making happy memories together.

Understand the Benefits of Self-Direction

Independent work and play times are highly beneficial to the developing mind and ego. Alone time also helps children process their experiences and de-stress.

Talk to Your Child

You won’t know if your child is struggling to keep up with his or her activities unless you talk openly with them about it. If some activities need to be removed from the schedule, work with your child to figure out which one(s) to keep and which to let go.

 

Extracurricular activities like music, arts, and sports can definitely play an important role in your child’s development. Just make sure your child does not become overwhelmed by too many activities.

If you’re looking for an expert to help your child manage their stress and avoid becoming overwhelmed, please reach out to me today.

 

Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/articles/200301/the-overbooked-child

https://www.everydayhealth.com/kids-health/balancing-school-with-extracurricular-activities.aspx

https://childmind.org/article/finding-the-balance-with-after-school-activities/

How to Keep Your Child from Obsessing Over Academic Success

February 12, 2019

Almost everybody in America knows what a GPA is. The Grade Point Average, a standard of measuring academic achievement in the United States, unfortunately tends to be seen as a definition of a student’s intelligence and potential. What is meant to measure achievement can be a destructive and discouraging system for many students. If your […]

How to Keep Your Child from Obsessing Over Academic Success

February 12, 2019

Almost everybody in America knows what a GPA is. The Grade Point Average, a standard of measuring academic achievement in the United States, unfortunately tends to be seen as a definition of a student’s intelligence and potential. What is meant to measure achievement can be a destructive and discouraging system for many students. If your child is obsessed with getting good grades, this can be harmful to their creativity, their individuality, and their mental health.

Why Do Kids Get Obsessed with Getting Good Grades?

Many times, kids are obsessed with getting good grades to please their parents. You may have had a reward system for when your child got good grades – you may have celebrated their good grades or punished them for not meeting your expectations. Naturally, a child wants their parent’s love and approval.

If you can in good conscience say that your child’s obsession with getting good grades has nothing to do with your influence, there may be other factors at play. She may have unrealistic ideas about what is needed for her to pursue a specific career. There may be a culture of grade obsession in her classroom or at her school. Talk to your child to see if they can identify reasons why they’re striving for high grades.

How Can You Stop Your Child from Obsessing Over Good Grades?

Help your child refocus by emphasizing the development of a good work ethic and a positive attitude. Teach your child that hard work in the end is what counts; so that regardless of the grade they receive, they can never be disappointed knowing the effort they expended.

Of course it’s important to teach your child to work hard and always do their best. While grades are an important factor in their academic success, it doesn’t define them or their abilities. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Character is higher than intellect. A great soul will be strong to live as well as to think.”

 

Every person has their strengths and weaknesses, and tests and grades aren’t always the best measure of one’s knowledge or potential. Remind your child that it’s not about what they know, but who they are as a person that truly matters.

If you or your child need help making the best of their educational experience, a specially trained professional can help. Call my office today to schedule an appointment.

4 Steps for Setting Academic Goals with Your Child

February 6, 2019

When children are taught how to set and achieve goals, they learn that decisions have consequences and that hard work earns rewards. As your child sets and works towards academic goals, their self-confidence will grow, and they’ll take pride in themselves and their achievements. They will learn how to focus, how to prioritize, and ultimately […]

4 Steps for Setting Academic Goals with Your Child

February 6, 2019

When children are taught how to set and achieve goals, they learn that decisions have consequences and that hard work earns rewards. As your child sets and works towards academic goals, their self-confidence will grow, and they’ll take pride in themselves and their achievements. They will learn how to focus, how to prioritize, and ultimately how to make better decisions.

Step 1: Explain

To take advantage of all that goal-setting has to offer, start working on this with your child as soon as they’re old enough – typically around age eight.

Explain to your child what goals are. Describe how people achieve goals as a result of a great deal of hard work. Help them understand the long-term importance of academic success, no matter what field they should choose to go to in the future.

Step 2: Brainstorm

Your child may or may not be aware of their own academic strengths and weaknesses. When setting goals, remember that it’s important to keep them specific, realistic, and attainable. Academic goals can include achieving certain grades in certain subjects, staying focused in class, or completing homework at a certain time.

Be sure to stay as quiet as possible while brainstorming, allowing your child to come up with their own ideas. If their goals are unrealistic, steer them toward something more achievable. If their goals are too big or long-term, help them break it down into a first step toward the long-term goal.

Step 3: Track

As author Harvey Mackay once said, “A dream is just a dream. A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.” Once your child has decided on a couple of goals, write them down and track their progress. You may wish to break each goal down into achievable, specific steps, each step with its own deadline. Set aside a block of time on a weekly or monthly basis to check-in on your child’s progress. Make the check-in is special to help your child stay motivated and focused. For example, you can take them to lunch at the park or a favorite restaurant. Discuss their progress, help them with any difficulties they may have and remind them why they set their goals.

Step 4: Celebrate

Celebrate when your child achieves a goal. It can be an outing, their favorite meal, or a small gift. Then, work with them on setting the next set of goals. Even if your child didn’t meet their goal, likely they learned some lessons and made some progress along the way.

Remind your child that failure is something every person experiences in life: we don’t always achieve the goals we set. Sometimes our biggest success comes by learning from mistakes and trying again. Encourage your child to never give up on dreams that are important to them.

 

Does your child need help achieving academic success? One of our trained professionals can help them accomplish their goals. Give our office a call at your earliest convenience to set up an appointment.